GOP Morons Indicted For Secretly Funneling Russian $$$ To Trump/RNC, Because It's Still 2016
Republican operatives getting indicted for allegedly putting a Russian guy's money into Donald Trump's and the RNC's underpants? What is this, 2016? No, unfortunately it's 2021, and this shit will never end, but it's also 2016, because the Department of Justice literally just dropped some indictments about some shit that allegedly happened in 2016.
Some GOP idiots whose names you never wanted to learn — Jesse Benton and Roy Douglas "Doug" Wead — have been indicted in federal court in DC on six counts including conspiracy, hiding contributions from foreign people, concealing where contributions came from, and the like. For secretly funneling a Russian's money to Trump/the RNC, but actually keeping most of it for themselves, actually.
It's funny because Benton literally just got finished being convicted in 2016 for committing hinky campaign shit while working for the Ron Paul campaign in 2012. (Benton ran Daddy Paul's campaign that year, Rand Paul's Senate campaign in 2010, and Mitch McConnell's campaign in 2014.) Donald Trump pardoned Benton for that one this past January. Now he's indicted for doing hinky campaign shit for Trump, in the year 2016. You know, allegedly.
Talking Points Memo explains some names and dates and places:
An experienced Republican operative in Kentucky, Benton has spent years in the orbit of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and his father. Benton is married to Ron Paul's granddaughter.
Benton was forced to resign from managing McConnell's re-election campaign in 2014 over allegations around a pay-for-votes scam in 2012 in Iowa. Rand Paul then hired him, before Benton was indicted the next year on charges relating to the Iowa scandal.
The Kentucky operative allegedly worked on the Russian straw donor scheme as he faced sentencing for the Iowa bribery scandal.
Wait, dude was convicted for 2012 hinky election crimes in 2016, and now he's indicted in 2021 for 2016 hinky election crimes benefiting Trump, months AFTER Trump pardoned him for the 2012 Ron Paul crimes? Yes, that's what you read. You also read that he was allegedly doing THESE crimes while waiting to be sentenced for THOSE crimes. All of this is obviously above-board.
Also, hoo boy, they got in right under that five-year statute of limitations, didn't they? Was this just collecting dust at the Trump DOJ until somebody on Merrick Garland's team found it?
Wead, meanwhile, is ... some idiot. A wingnut author who, as TPM Muckraker explains, "helps manage a multi-level marketing firm in Russia." So that's awesome.
The indictments say these two brain geniuses "conspired to illegally funnel thousands of dollars of foreign money from a Russian foreign national into an election for the Office of President of the United States of America." They hit up the Russian for the money, and they figured it'd be fine, because they'd just say the money came from Jesse. You know, after they took their cut. And they talked about it out loud to each other.
Apparently the Russian national in question really wanted a photo op with Trump, and so according to the indictments, Benton and Wead conspired to personally profit from making that happen.
Apparently, it went like this, if the indictments are correct:
1. Get $100,000 from Russian for "consulting." Have him wire the money.
2. Use $25,000 of that to get Russian in the door for photo-op with Trump on September 22, 2016. This was in the form of a promised contribution to "Political Committee C," which was throwing the photo-op shindig. This was the Trump Victory Committee, by the way, the joint fundraising committee for the Trump campaign and the RNC, which are listed in the indictment as political committees "A" and "B," respectively.
3. Don't actually pay the $25,000 for like a month, while the Trump Victory Committee has to harass you.
4. Say it's from "Jesse Bentor" (sic!) when you finally make the contribution.
5. Keep the other $75K.
6. Talk about it a bunch together and also write some things down.
7. When the committees come asking questions like hey wait, where the fuck did this money come from, say things like "bought the tickets and gifted them to [WEAD] and [Foreign National 1], so the money comes from me. And, I think I brain farted and forgot to send the authorization. I will resend as soon as I am at my desk."
8. Lie and file false reports whenever necessary.
9. Proffff ... it?
10. Or ... just jail?
As TPM notes, one of Doug Wead's lawyers is Jay Sekulow, in case you hadn't thought about his screaming red-faced Trump impeachment clown lawyer conniptions in a while.
This is all very legal and very cool and obviously these people are innocent until proven guilty, obviously, obviously, of course, the end.
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